By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers.
Daryn Kagan, the former CNN anchor whose specialty is inspirational and motivational stories, now has a bit of good news herself: She's taking her act to Oprah Radio, heard on Sirius XM Radio. Before snagging the coveted post, the What's Possible author and host of DarynKagan.com traveled to Kenya, where locals praised the election of their "son," President Obama, John McCain's "gracious" exit from the race, and peaceful democracy rallies. "Talk about showing the world what's possible," she tells Whispers.
Kagan shared with us some video of her trip and pictures of her in Kenya. She also wrote for Whispers a personal postcard, printed below, describing her trip and how it was different from the first one she took years ago with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and singer Bono.
You Can Have A Bigger Impact Than Bono
By Daryn Kagan
There are few people who define the word, "rock star" better than U2's Bono. He's revered the world over not just for leading one of the biggest bands ever, but for his very public work on behalf of the underprivileged in Africa.
Back in 2002, I had a chance to see all this for myself. I traveled through Africa for CNN, covering a trip led by then US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Bono was his #1 guest. Together they were going to four countries, all democracies, all places where aid had a direct and positive impact.
It was fascinating to see the uber celebrity and the highly successful capitalist learning from each other, and to see Bono's dedication to a 2-week trip in a land where he was a relative unknown. The real "rock star" on this trip was Paul O'Neill because he represented the United States Treasury. Bono would actually have to introduce himself, "Hello, I'm Bono," he would say. "I'm a rock star and I'm here to help."
As great of an experience as that was, I recently had an even better one. I spent Christmas 2008 in Kenya at Hekima Place, a home for girls just outside of Nairobi. In Hekima Place, some might see a home for orphaned girls. Kate Fletcher will tell you it's a home for girl scholars. She should know. She created the place.
And who is Kate Fletcher? Only a 73-year-old widow from Pittsburgh who realized when her husband died that she was not done loving. After she Googled, "Where does one go to love orphans?" and "Nairobi, Kenya" popped up, off she went to volunteer, only to discover she had found her new home and purpose. Kate created Hekima Place strictly on donations and now has 55 girls who are loved, cherished, and getting the best education possible.
I featured Kate on my website, DarynKagan.com. It was obvious she fit the theme, "Show The World What's Possible!" Along with the feature came Kate's sincere invitation, "You have to come visit!" I finally decided, "I think I do!"
So, off I went for one of the most meaningful Christmases of my life, just after the U.S. elections, during a real period of hope in Kenya. An earlier email from Kate described how Kenyans celebrated "Obama Day" after the November elections, and how "this whole country was glued to the TV wherever they found one, to see how their "son" would do . . . Kenyans everywhere are amazed at how gracious Mr. McCain was, how peaceful all the marches and rallies were, and all of us here are learning how real democracy looks and what the possibilities are." Wow. Talk about Showing the World What's Possible!
I basked in two weeks of unfiltered love from girls who have that to give and more. I watched in wonder as they each opened a single gift on Christmas morning. Each girl took a turn, careful not to rip the wrapping paper, for the paper itself is a treasure and will be used again. Inside was a single shirt, a pencil, and a plastic glow-in-the dark bracelet. There was not a single, "Is that all we get?" from any child. There was appreciation, love, and oh yeah, a Christmas dinner that made you want to unbutton the top of your pants. Some things are universal.
All this created by a widow who didn't wait to become a rock star or an American dignitary. None of this is to slight the amazing work that Bono has done and is doing. The point is, the hunger to make a difference beats in all of us. I believe it's that extra desire beyond having love and financial security. It's that longing to the question, "Why am I here?"
I say, "Don't wait to find out." Don't wait to become famous. Don't wait even to start your home in Africa. There are opportunities to piggyback on greatness all around the world. That's what my Christmas trip to Kenya was—a piggyback on the greatness of a 73-year-old widow from Pittsburgh. Two weeks where I got to make a difference in the lives of the awesome girls of Hekima Place and two weeks of the best Christmas present I've ever received.
Daryn Kagan is the creator and host of DarynKagan.com, the web's one-stop destination for inspirational news, and a host on Oprah radio, where she can be heard each weekday on XM and Sirius satellite radio. Daryn is also the author of What's Possible: 50 True Stories of People Who Dared To Dream They Could Make A Difference (Meredith Books 2008,) and a former CNN news anchor.